New Volume of Interest: Commonplace Commitments

Thanks to Peter Fosl for passing along the following:

Richard Fleming has just published a new piece in this volume: Peter S. Fosl, Michael McGandy, and Mark Moorman, eds., Commonplace Commitments: Thinking Through the Legacy of Joseph P. Fell (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2016). Fleming’s contribution is called “Ordinary Studies: Conceptual Brackets—Textual Moments” (pp. 153-65 in the book). It “seeks to both disquiet and still the matters of the ordinary” by, among other practices, melding John Cage’s use of “time brackets” with more traditional etude aims and forms. The text’s conceptual brackets are selected from collected data descriptions of the ordinary first given in the afterword of part 1 of Fleming’s Threads of Philosophy. Click [here] for more information. And enjoy!


Thinking with Tolstoy and Wittgenstein: New Book by Henry W. Pickford

thinking-with-tolstoy-and-wittgensteinI’m afraid I’m a bit late to the party: Out last year from Northwestern UP, Thinking with Tolstoy and Wittgenstein: Expression, Emotion, and Art by Henry W. Pickford. From the publisher:


In this highly original interdisciplinary study incorporating close readings of literary texts and philosophical argumentation, Henry W. Pickford develops a theory of meaning and expression in art intended to counter the meaning skepticism most commonly associated with the theories of Jacques Derrida.

Pickford arrives at his theory by drawing on the writings of Wittgenstein to develop and modify the insights of Tolstoy’s philosophy of art. Pickford shows how Tolstoy’s encounter with Schopenhauer’s thought on the one hand provided support for his ethical views but on the other hand presented a problem, exemplified in the case of music, for his aesthetic theory, a problem that Tolstoy did not successfully resolve. Wittgenstein’s critical appreciation of Tolstoy’s thinking, however, not only recovers its viability but also constructs a formidable position within contemporary debates concerning theories of emotion, ethics, and aesthetic expression.


“This book is original, ambitious, and extremely well informed. Henry Pickford has managed to say an important new word in a vast intellectual field.” Boris Gasparov, author of Five Operas and a Symphony: Word and Music in Russian Culture
Thinking with Tolstoy and Wittgenstein is a beautifully written, philosophically sophisticated, and important work that should be of considerable interest to lterary theorists as well as to philosophers concerned with emotion.” Stanley Bates, Middlebury College

Images of History: New Book by Richard Eldridge

Richard Eldridge‘s most recent book, Images of History: Kant, Benjamin, Freedom, and the Human Subject, is sure to be of interest to those of us invested in questions of historicity, morality, and political community. See below for the publisher’s description. Click the image to be forwarded to the book’s Amazon page.



Developing work in the theories of action and explanation, Eldridge argues that moral and political philosophers require accounts of what is historically possible, while historians require rough philosophical understandings of ideals that merit reasonable endorsement.

Both Immanuel Kant and Walter Benjamin recognize this fact. Each sees a special place for religious consciousness and critical practice in the articulation and revision of ideals that are to have cultural effect, but they differ sharply in the forms of religious-philosophical understanding, cultural criticism, and political practice that they favor.

Kant defends a liberal, reformist, Protestant stance, emphasizing the importance of liberty, individual rights, and democratic institutions. His fullest picture of movement toward a moral culture appears inReligion within the Bounds of Mere Reason, where he describes conjecturally the emergence of an ethical commonwealth.

Benjamin defends a politics of improvisatory alertness and consciousness-raising that is suspicious of progress and liberal reform. He practices a form of modernist, materialist criticism that is strongly rooted in his encounters with Kant, Hölderlin, and Goethe. His fullest, finished picture of this critical practice appears in One-Way Street, where he traces the continuing force of unsatisfied desires.

By drawing on both Kant and Benjamin, Eldridge hopes to avoid both moralism (standing on sharply specified normative commitments at all costs) and waywardness (rejecting all settled commitments). And in doing so, he seeks to make better sense of the commitment-forming, commitment-revising, anxious, reflective and sometimes grownup acculturated human subjects we are.

F. R. Leavis Symposium, April 2016 Issue of Philosophy and Literature

The April issue (Vol. 40, No. 1) of Philosophy of Literature features a symposium on F. R. Leavis: Teacher, Critic, Philosopher. See below for the complete Table of Contents + links.





Lines to Time: A Poem by V. Penelope Pelizzon pp. 1-33 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0008 by M. W. Rowe

Sculpting Ideas: Can Philosophy Be an Art Form? pp. 34-43 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0012 by St. Hope Earl McKenzie

The Crisis of Subjectivity: The Significance of Darstellung and Freedom in E. T. A. Hoffmann’s “The Sandman” pp. 44-58 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0016 by Elizabeth Purcell

Melville and Nietzsche: Living the Death of God pp. 59-75 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0020 by Mark Anderson

The Function of Kant’s Miltonic Citations on a Page of the Opus postumum pp. 76-97 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0000 by Sanford Budick

Joseph Conrad and the Epistemology of Space pp. 98-123 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0003 by John G. Peters

Symposium: F. R. Leavis: Critic, Teacher, Philosopher

Introduction pp. 124-126 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0006 by Danièle Moyal-Sharrock

Leavisian Thinking pp. 127-136 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0010 by Ian Robinson

Rethinking Leavis pp. 137-156 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0014 by Chris Joyce

Leavis, Tolstoy, Lawrence, and “Ultimate Questions” pp. 157-170 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0018 by Edward Greenwood

Creativity and Pedagogy in Leavis pp. 171-188 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0022 by Michael Bell

Leavis on Tragedy pp. 189-205 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0002 by Paul Dean

Leavis and Wittgenstein pp. 206-225 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0005 by Bernard Harrison

Absolute Pitch and Exquisite Rightness of Tone pp. 226-239 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0009 by Paul Standish

Wittgenstein and Leavis: Literature and the Enactment of the Ethical pp. 240-264 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0013 by Danièle Moyal-Sharrock

Notes and Fragments

Levinas and the Plot against Literature pp. 265-272 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0017 by Joseph G. Kronick

The Myth of Narcissus as a Surreptitious Allegory about Creativity pp. 273-284 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0021 by Greg Stone

The Idea of the “Good” pp. 285-296 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0001 by John C. Hampsey

Wittgenstein’s Remarks on William Shakespeare pp. 297-308 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0004 by Derek McDougall

On The Philosophy of Poetry, ed. John Gibson pp. 309-314 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0007 by A. J. Nickerson

La Guerra Dei Poveri: A Response to A. J. Nickerson pp. 315-316 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0011 by John Gibson


The Cognitive Value of Philosophical Fiction by Jukka Mikkonen (review) pp. 317-319 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0015 by László Kajtár

Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach by Philip Kitcher (review) pp. 320-324 | DOI: 10.1353/phl.2016.0019 by Iris Vidma

David Kangas Rest In Peace

David Kangas, author of the book Kierkegaard’s Instant: On Beginnings (2007) and numerous articles on thinkers as diverse as Reiner Schürmann and Marguerite Porete, passed away September ninth in Turlock, California where he was an assistant professor in the Philosophy department at Stanislaus State. David was fifty-one and is survived by his wife and young children.

David will be remembered for his openhearted curiosity and insight. I invite you to commemorate him in the comments section below.

With sincere condolences to his family and friends, CL

Duke PAL: Upcoming Events

An embarrassment of riches this month at Duke’s Center for Philosophy, Art, and Literature. See for more info on the following:

  • September 6, 2016 – Writing and Academic Works English Working Group Meeting –

An Investigation of what Academics can Learn from Literary Non-fiction, particularly the Essay and the Memoir

A Call for Participation for 2016-2017

Sarah Beckwith and Toril Moi

The English Department has generously sponsored a working group on “Writing and Academic Work” for 2016/17. We are writing to invite anyone interested in the topic to participate in the year’s work. If you are interested, please attend our planning meeting on SEPTEMBER 6th at 5.30pm in 314, Allen Building.

  • September 13, 2016 – Concepts, Figures, Art Forms Seminar 2016/17

Call for participation


Toril Moi, Literature and Romance Studies, English, Philosophy, Theater Studies (, Corina Stan, English (

Come to the first, exploratory meeting!

If you are interested in exploring the concept of the Other this academic year, please come to the first, exploratory meeting of this new FHI/PAL seminar at 5 p.m. on Tuesday 13th September, FHI Conference Room, Smith Warehouse (enter in Bay 4, the room will be the first on your left.)

  • September 13, 2016 – Film Screening “Jimmy P Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian”

Join co-sponsors, PAL and FHI for film screening of French director Arnaud Desplechin’s  “Jimmy P Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian,” a 2013 English-language movie, set in Topeka Kansas, based on the memoir of the Hungarian -Jewish ethnologist/psychoanalyst Georges Devereux about his work with Jimmy Picard a Blackfoot Indian and Second World War veteran.  On Tuesday, September 13th at 7:00pm at Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Smith Warehouse, Bay 4.

  • September 15, 2016 – Panel Discussion “Jimmy P Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian”

Join co-sponsors, PAL and FHI for a panel discussion on French director Arnaud Desplechin’s  “Jimmy P Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian.”

On Thursday, September 15th at 6:00pm at Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall, Smith Warehouse, Bay 4.  Reception at 5:30pm.
Panel Speakers:  Markos Hadjiouannou, Deborah Jenson, Ranjana Khanna, Brandon Kohrt, Toril Moi, Dhipthi Mulligan.

Call for Abstracts: “What’s Wrong (and What’s Right) with Ordinary Language Philosophy?”

The 8th Nordic Wittgenstein Society Symposium

Åbo Akademi University (Turku, Finland) May 5-6, 2017

The  label “ordinary language philosophy” (OLP) was probably coined by its detractors. Common objections against OLP are that philosophers engaging in it gratuitously limit their attention to the most common ways of using words, that they give current or non-specialized usage normative ascendancy over more sophisticated uses, and that they neglect the need for empirical investigation in settling issues of usage.

In defence of OLP it has been suggested that much of the criticisms are due to misunderstandings of methodologies such as those adopted by Wittgenstein, Austin, and others. The ordinary language philosophers are the ones who intend to approach language without preconceptions, by attending to the way words actually occur in interaction – not so much the language of everyday as the everyday of language. Nor are ordinary languagephilosophers out to chart maps of current or correct usage: their aim is rather to dissolve worries that arise out of misconstruals of our own ways of speaking. They are not in the business of new discoveries but rather of reminding ourselves of how we speak.

The aim of this closing conference of our research project “The Philosophical Import of Ordinary Language Philosophy: Austin, Ryle, Wittgenstein, and their contemporary significance” (2013-17) is to explore the aspirations and procedures of ordinary language philosophy. Are they unified or diverse? Are they intelligible? Are they defensible? How do philosophical outlooks that have an apparent affinity with ordinary languagephilosophy, such as experimental philosophy or various contemporary forms of contextualism, relate to OLP?

Plenary speakers: Avner Baz, Jason Bridges, Robyn Carston, Niklas Forsberg, Marina Sbisà

We invite submissions from those wishing to present a paper on a topic related to the conference theme. Speakers will be given 20 minutes for presentation and 15 minutes for discussion.

Please send an abstract of up to 500 words to by February 1, 2017. Applicants will be notified of the selection result by March 1, 2017.

The conference is organized by the Nordic Wittgenstein Society and the research project “The Philosophical Import of Ordinary LanguagePhilosophy,”
 which is financed by the Academy of Finland and coordinated by Professor Martin Gustafsson, Åbo Akademi University. The organizers are doctoral candidate Kim-Erik Berts, Professor emeritus Lars Hertzberg, and Dr Yrsa Neuman.

The Great Riddle: New Book by Stephen Mulhall + NDPR Review


From the publisher:

Can we talk meaningfully about God? The theological movement known as Grammatical Thomism affirms that religious language is nonsensical, because the reality of God is beyond our capacity for expression. Stephen Mulhall critically evaluates the claims of this movement (as exemplified in the work of Herbert McCabe and David Burrell) to be a legitimate inheritor of Wittgenstein’s philosophical methods as well as Aquinas’s theological project. The major obstacle to this claim is that Grammatical Thomism makes the nonsensicality of religious language when applied to God a touchstone of Thomist insight, whereas ‘nonsense’ is standardly taken to be solely a term of criticism in Wittgenstein’s work. Mulhall argues that, if Wittgenstein is read in the terms provided by the work of Cora Diamond and Stanley Cavell, then a place can be found in both his early work and his later writings for a more positive role to be assigned to nonsensical utterances–one which depends on exploiting an analogy between religious language and riddles. And once this alignment between Wittgenstein and Aquinas is established, it also allows us to see various ways in which his later work has a perfectionist dimension–in that it overlaps with the concerns of moral perfectionism, and in that it attributes great philosophical significance to what theology and philosophy have traditionally called ‘perfections’ and ‘transcendentals’, particularly concepts such as Being, Truth, and Unity or Oneness. This results in a radical reconception of the role of analogous usage in language, and so in the relation between philosophy and theology.

Mark Addis‘ illuminating NDPR review can be found [here].

MLN: Practices of the Ordinary (Comparative Literature Issue, December 2015)

front_coverMLN’s latest comparative literature issue is out and has a lot that will be of interest to readers of OLP&Lit Online: Papers by Donatelli, Laugier, Marrati, and Shuster on Practices of the Ordinary, plus Zumhagen-Yekplé on Diamond and Woolf, and more!


Click here for the full issue.


(And thanks to Finn Otis for the heads-up.)